I recently heard a popular leader referred to as ‘tough as nails”. She is famous for being in difficult situations and finding a way out – gracefully and unscathed.
As leaders we often discover that something has gone terribly wrong and our reaction: short, medium and long term will often define us for years to come. As a leader or manager you need to make a decision fast – tackle this adversity head on. As leaders, we need to be able to react to adverse situations quickly and decisively.
We need to stop, analyse the situation very carefully, both internally and externally, and make some very tough decisions.
Tough as nails? Or resilient? I think resilient.
My friend Wikipedia defines resilience as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity quickly and decisively.
Rebecca Shambaugh, in her book on Hillary Clinton says “…we need the ability to keep moving ahead, no matter what obstacles we meet, overcoming and thriving on adversity. Leaders must be looking ahead, seeing the possibilities, and then connecting with the hearts and minds of followers to engage them in a new vision.” Resilience has been identified as Ms. Clinton’s key strength as she moves toward the Democratic nomination for US president in 2016.
Being ‘tough as nails’ is a characteristic or a trait. We use the words to describe an element of personality that is relatively stable and typical of that person.
Being ‘resilient’ is less an ingrained characteristic and more a quality that can be taught, mentored or coached. Very different.
So how do we become more resilient?
Step 1 – Understand that this is a science – this is something that can be taught, coached or mentored.
Step 2 – Call this the ‘As-Is’ state. Understand your core values – what you stand for in the business world or your personal life. What makes you tick and what makes you ticked-off. This baseline is essential to your journey.
Step 3 – From the baseline above, list the typical stresses, problems and difficult situations that you commonly face.
Step 4 – Address the different ways you might deal with these scenarios – being sure they line up to your ‘core values’. Rehearse the different responses, practice, review options and consult others.
The key to becoming more resilient is to treat the journey as a science and not an art. The key is to realize that you cannot wing-it when it comes to responding to adversity.
Develop an internal process for dealing with stress and obstacles and fine-tune the responses over time.
Over the next weeks I will unwrap some of these leadership qualities that can lead us all to being more resilient.